IT’S down to the last four in the Carbery JAHC, with both semi-finals taking place this weekend. In contention will be former champions Dohenys and St Oliver Plunkett’s, as well as Kilbree and St Colum’s, both of whom are both looking for their first title.
St Colum’s v St Oliver
St Colum’s go in search of their first title with three games under their belt but without setting the world on fire. In Round 1 they were held to a draw by O’Donovan Rossa, 0-16 each. Colum’s trailed by 0-10 to 0-7 at the break and the introduction of Alan O’Connor turned the tide in a tight second half, a red card not helping the Skibb effort. It was all square at full-time, 0-14 each, and there was no separating the sides in extra time.
The replay was a dour, tough affair and again it was the introduction of a sub at half-time that swung the game Colum’s way. This time it was Seán O’Shea who did the trick with five second-half points as they went on to win by 1-10 to 0-7, the goal from Dermot Cronin.
Opponents in Round 2A were promising Ballinascarthy and it was experience against youth as Bal were left to rue many missed opportunities from play and frees. Late points from Alan O’Connor and Seán O’Shea (who finished with eight) gave Colum’s a narrow 0-12 to 0-11 victory, having led by 0-7 to 0-5 at the break. From there, they received a bye to the semi-final.
St Oliver Plunkett’s had a much more adventurous journey to the semi-final. In Round 1, first-half goals by Conor O’Driscoll and Conor McCarthy led to a convincing 2-12 to 2-6 victory over a fancied St James’ but in Round 2A they were surprised by Kilbree, losing by 1-12 to 0-11 after conceding the last four points.
In Round 3, they faced reigning champions Clonakilty and for much of the game looked to be heading out of the race, trailing by three points with six minutes remaining. However, a marvellous finish as they struck six unanswered points gave them a well-deserved 1-16 to 1-13 victory. Kevin Coffey scored 1-11 in that game.
Plunkett’s were again underdogs for the quarter-final against unbeaten Diarmuid Ó Mathúnas but, in dreadful weather conditions, there was no questioning their superiority as they swept to a convincing 0-15 to 0-9 victory. Again, Coffey did the damage with 14 points but Conor O’Driscoll was man of the match.
Colum’s will depend on all the seasoned stalwarts. Mícheál Cronin is totally dependable between the posts, with good cover from Carbery hurler David O’Mahony, Shane McSweeney, Séamus McHugh, Ben Murphy and Eddie O’Sullivan. Tony Harrington and Michael Casey will probably man midfield while up front Seán O’Shea, Gene McCarthy, Stephen Cronin, John Paul O’Sullivan, Denis McSweeney and, if fit, Alan O’Connor are key.
Plunkett’s also carry a world of experience with goalkeeper Michael Murphy well-protected by Timmy Coffey, Gary McCarthy, Barry O’Driscoll, Eoin Barrett and, especially Conor O’Driscoll. Midfield should be the O’Driscoll twins, Eddie and TJ, while Kevin Coffey, Michael P Keohane, Niall O’Driscoll, Brian Walsh and Seán O’Donovan work hard in attack.
Verdict: Almost impossible to call but with both sides depending on their free-takers, Kevin Coffey and Seán O’Shea, this game could be decided on discipline or lack of it. The team which concedes least frees will win and Plunkett’s harder passage should give them a slight edge, especially with centre back Conor O’Driscoll in majestic form at present.
Kilbree v Dohenys,
A unique pairing sees neighbours Kilbree and Dohenys facing each other in Ballinacarriga.
While Dohenys have being doing well in recent years, they lost a large number of players at the end of last season and have been plagued with injuries this year. They have done well to get this far. In Round 1 they trailed Bandon’s second string for 56 minutes, having hit 16 wides, but put in a strong finish to win by 1-14 to 2-8. The goalscorer was Don O’Driscoll but in Round 2A against Mathúnas he was red-carded after only eight minutes, in dreadful conditions in Ballinacarriga, and Dohenys fell to a 1-9 to 0-5 defeat.
It was into Round 3 then and the opponents were St James’. A poor start by their depleted side had them in trouble but they recovered with goals from Jamie Carroll and Brendan McCarthy to lead by a point at the break. A fine second half saw them denying St James’ a score from play as they swept to a 2-8 to 2-5 victory, again in atrocious conditions.
In the quarter-final, Dohenys were underdogs against promising Ballinascarthy and were heading out of the championship, trailing by two points in the 63rd minute, when ace forward Jamie Carroll became the hero of the day with a winning goal, 2-5 to 0-10. Bal dominated much of the game as Dohenys trailed by 0-5 to 0-3 at the break, having played with the wind. Darren Kelly got the first goal.
Kilbree have been the surprise packets of the year, with a side made up of veterans and successful youngsters. Round 1 provided an easy victory over a young Kilbrittain side as Darragh Coakley hit ten points and Damien O’Gorman two goals in a comprehensive 2-27 to 1-10 win.
Round 2A saw them against favourites, Plunkett’s, and they showed their first-round form was no flash in the pan as they played well against the wind in the first half to trail by only a point at half time, 0-7 to 0-6. A goal by Donal McSweeney in the second half and a strong finish gave them a well-deserved 1-12 to 0-11 victory.
Dohenys and Kilbree met in the U21 semi-final a few weeks ago, with Dohenys struggling to field fifteen, Kilbree going through to the final.
Carbery goalkeeper Vincent Healy is a real ace for Dohenys, bringing off a magnificent save in the dying seconds against Bal, and he is well-fronted by Tadhg O’Leary, Barry O’Donovan and Noel Collins. Jerry McCarthy is the star of the side at centre back, well-supported by brother, Patrick, while John Healy has been very consistent at midfield.
Up front, young Jamie Carroll is the go-to man and they will be hoping Cork minor Mark Buckley is fit. Brendan McCarthy, Darren Kelly and Denis Cronin can also raise flags.
Main man for youthful Kilbree is veteran Kevin O’Donovan in attack, who controls much of the play, and he gets great support from Darragh Coakley, Damien O’Gorman, Don McSweeney, Liam Daly and Dylan Coffey in attack. John Clancy and Jonathan Deasy are lively at midfield while David O’Donovan, Danny Kelly, Liam O’Brien, Kevin Keohane, Brian O’Donovan and, especially, Ray Collins, are all fine defenders. Top hurler Don McCarthy has been a big loss through injury.
Verdict: Injury-hit Dohenys against mainly untried Kilbree, experience against youth, a wide-open game.
Normally, one would fancy Dohenys with their experience in recent seasons to emerge on top but a young Kilbree are ready to explode on the scene. Dohenys have been living on the edge so far and may just fall over this time against a vibrant Kilbree outfit.